After breast cancer diagnosis: Meaning processes, quality of life, and health in the context of online intervention

Colleen M Heinkel, Marquette University


This study explores meaning processes in the wake of a women's diagnosis of breast cancer and in the context of an online psychosocial intervention developed to help patients cope with the illness. Meaning processes have been identified as a critical element of weathering the difficult and often traumatic illness of breast cancer. A review of the literature identified four constructs necessary to facilitate an integrative process of meaning. These constructs are explicitly found in the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (CHESS), an online psychosocial intervention developed for use by women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer. Narrative and quantitative survey data from CHESS research were used to examine the meaning process in the context of breast cancer. Inductive methodology based on grounded theory was used to explore the qualitative data collected from women with breast cancer using either CHESS or the Internet alone who were asked to describe how they've been changed by their illness experience. Quantitative analyses of group differences in meaning outcomes and their relationship to demographic information, health outcomes, and quality of life measures were conducted. Results inform a more comprehensive understanding of the process of meaning during illness and its integration with quality of life. Implications of the facilitation of meaning processes to enhance well-being via the use of online interventions are discussed. Possible directions for future development and use of such interventions are explored.

Recommended Citation

Heinkel, Colleen M, "After breast cancer diagnosis: Meaning processes, quality of life, and health in the context of online intervention" (2008). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI3357931.